The Foundation for Portland Public Schools, with the help of a $50,000 anonymous matching donation, has launched a fund aimed at removing financial barriers to participating in school sports.

The Ed Feeney Access to Athletics Fund, named in honor of the retired Portland High School girls’ basketball coach, will provide athletic wear and gear to students in need.

Feeney made a lasting impact on many students as coach from 1979 to 2007, going above and beyond to support and mentor his students and make sure that all who wanted to could take part in athletics, said Andi Weisman Summers, executive director of the Foundation for Portland Public Schools.

Once when he was keeping score for another team, Feeney noticed that one player’s shoes were full of holes, Summers said. He asked the boy his shoe size, took off his own sneakers and offered them to the boy. At the end of the game, he told the boy to keep the shoes, and he drove home in his socks.

Retired Portland High School girls’ basketball coach Ed Feeney, pictured at a team practice here in 2005. A new fund in his honor will help supply athletic wear and gear to students who need them. File photo / Portland Press Herald

School budgets only cover basic sports necessities, like uniforms and helmets, Summers said, and many students can’t even try out for teams because they don’t have appropriate footwear or cleats, for example.

The need has grown as Portland’s demographics have changed. Of Portland students, 14% experience unstable housing or are homeless, and more than half are eligible for free or reduced lunch, she said.


All gifts to the Ed Feeney Athletic Fund will be matched dollar for dollar. Summers said that while large gifts are amazing, she’s been especially moved by small gifts of $5 or $10, with notes from folks who say they don’t have much to give but that Feeney was a father figure to them when they were in school.

“He touched a lot of lives,” she said.

“Sports are a critical part of school and as important as academics for many kids,” Summers said. “We’re hoping to match the $50,000 by the end of the school year,” she said, and have funds available for spring sports or at least by the fall.

Portland High School Athletics Director Lance Johnson said the Feeney fund provides “an amazing opportunity for our community to get more kids involved in high school athletics, with the number of newcomers we have in our athletic programs, schools and community.”

“For some kids, that connection to athletics will keep them in school and motivate them to do better,” he said.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that 70% of children from families with incomes four times the poverty line participated in sports in 2020, while participation was around 51% for families in a middle-income range, and just 31% for families at or below the poverty line.

“We’ll be able to put it out there and let them know that we’ll make sure they have practice gear and footwear and the same equipment other kids have, and they’ll want to be more involved,” Johnson said, adding, “and it will make our teams even stronger.”

For more information or to donate, go to

Comments are not available on this story.